A Picture is Worth 10,000 Words

Photography is a tool that translates so much of what we perceive to be true in the media and history. After reading the NYT article “Photography as a Weapon,” it is apparent that many of the photographs we see, that strike us on such a personal level, are sometimes manipulated in order to generate that exact affect.

I never really thought about this concept in depth until after reading this article. It is somewhat ironic, considering last week was the anniversary of September 11. If there has been any point in my life where I distinctly remember the front-page photos, it was that day, eleven years ago. The impact of such astonishing photos really never leaves you. These photos make you stop and think, cry and ponder how something like that could have happened. But eleven years ago, I was not reading about an act or terrorism. I was viewing photos that captured peoples’ faces or horror and firemen and policemen and women who were rushing into burning buildings.

In this article, the role of technology and programs such as photoshop come into play. Once again the question arises of whether having the option to fabricate images is right or wrong. Regardless, it is done on a daily basis. From magazine covers that boast our favorite celebrities losing 20 pounds, to blown up images of the weapons of mass destruction (that may or may not have existed), images convey a story, and many people do not even read the text that accompany that story.

“If you want to trick someone with a photograph, there are lots of easy ways to do it. You don’t need Photoshop. You don’t need sophisticated digital photo-manipulation. You don’t need a computer. All you need to do is change the caption.”

We are a country of convenience where everyone is on the go. Despite this being a positive thing when it comes to work and education, the quote above highlights that so many individuals cease to read the copy of articles, because they take the photo and caption and run with the idea.  We even trust images that we know cannot be truly accurate. The change of a couple of pixels can ultimately determine what the image is trying reveal. The answer is how much we trust the source and ourselves to decipher what is really being said within the words and the pictures.

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